Imagine putting a Warhol through a washing machine, a Rembrandt in a recycling bin, or a Seurat in a shredder. If you are the lucky owner of a masterpiece by one of these artists you may take any of these actions and face no legal repercussions, thereby destroying the artwork and removing it from the cultural landscape. Our understanding of world history would be neither as beautiful, illuminated, nor as informed if artworks of cultural significance like these were destroyed. For example, little would be known of the ideologies of pre-historic civilizations but for the sculptures, wall paintings, and other artistic endeavors our predecessors have left behind. Beyond their historical significance, these original works of art can improve critical thinking skills and the viewers’ mood. Thus, there is a general societal interest in preserving our shared artistic history for generations to come.
The Destruction Gap: A Study of the Unprotected Societal Interest in Privately Held Artworks,
87 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol87/iss1/13